Whether it has been in the batter’s box, on the pitcher’s mound or while roaming the outfield, 6-foot-3, 180-pound Isaiah Paige has been doing it all for Damien (Calif.) this season.
The junior has often spent five or six innings chasing down fly balls in center field and then hustled to the mound to close out the final inning or two to wrap up a game.
“Coach [Andy] Nieto has me in a role that I like to play,” Paige said. “It’s difficult and challenging when you’re playing six innings and then coming in to pitch the seventh on like three warmup pitches, but it’s something that I have to get used to to give our team the best chance to win.”
To make sure his arm is prepped, Paige said assistant coach Chris Beck works with him and crafts a daily routine around Paige’s schedule.
“Coach Beck makes the time for me whether it is in the morning, whether it’s in the afternoon to get my pitching work in, but Coach Nieto and Coach Beck have been doing a really good job of balancing my game, so I’m excited.”
The junior also has taken the time to speak with other players that have been dual-threat position players that enter to close out games, including Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen, who was an All-American at Cal State, Fullerton as an outfielder and closer.
“I used to play on the Placentia Mustangs, which was like a Cal State, Fullerton-based team, so I got to pick his brain a little bit,” Paige said. “What he always told me is that regardless of the situation that you’re put in, you just have to compete. Your stuff might not always be there, but to just compete and do your best.”
Paige plans to continue as a two-way player once he takes his game to the next level. He has committed to play for Erik Bakich at Michigan.
“He’s told me that he wanted me as a two-way, so I’m just going to do anything to help the team win.”
That fits perfectly for Paige and Michigan. Part of the reason he chose Michigan was because he was sold on the Wolverines’ team concept.
“I really like the motto how Michigan sports is strictly the team, the team, the team. I like the idea to put the team ahead of yourself and the team’s goals ahead of yourself,” Paige said. “You know the moment I just stepped on the campus, it was nothing like any other campus I stepped on.”
And yes, Paige is aware of the difference in climates from Southern California to Ann Arbor, Mich. But he isn’t bothered by the potential cold weather. Instead he see it as training for future employment.
“Yea, the weather is going to be a factor, but Coach [Nick] Schnabel kind of broke it down like, ‘Hey, if you want to play in the big leagues one day, then you’re not going to really get to choose where you want to play.’”
Check out Isaiah Paige’s prospect video both on the mound and with a bat in his hands: